Friday, July 30, 2010

News on Tour wraps up

News on Tour wrapped up last Friday.

It's a bittersweet ending. These newscasts tend to be more community centered with pre-planned stories... which makes for a slower day in the newsroom. It gives the series a very school-is-out-for-summer kind of feel. We go out to lunch. We work on other stories. It's 6 days over the summer where we get to take things a bit easier.

We get to see people out and about. I got to sign an autograph and have been teased ever since.

Now they are over. While our editors are happy to be back to a normal news schedule, I think we'll miss the red shirt Fridays.

Jack featured in local money-saving blog

Jack's picture is featured in this blog...apparently there's a deal with the photographer:

My Candid Moments Photography Free Newborn Session (Local)
By Laura Wales on July 30, 2010

[photo courtesy of My Candid Moments]

Twin Cities readers: If you or someone you know is expecting a baby during the next three to six months, Shannon Steffens of My Candid Moments is offering a free newborn session and a free 8×10 image from your session as a thanks for participating in her newborn casting call.

There are a limited number of free sessions open and will be filled on a first call, first scheduled basis (call 612.799.1579). The session will be done on location at your home when your child is between 5 and 14 days old. If you do not make the casting call, you will receive a certificate for 50% off the session fee for a six-month or newborn session.

Shannon is Carrie’s professional and family photographer of choice and took photos at the Meet & Greet back in March as well as other photos of Carrie’s family here and here. I (Laura) can speak from experience and say that having a newborn session done was one of the best decisions we made in that post-baby haze, as we have some gorgeous pictures of our son when he was absolutely tiny and oh-so-sweet. You’ll treasure these pictures always!

Thursday, July 29, 2010


In our house, Dave says I'm the CEO and CFO and he's the head of security and part-time lawnmower man.

Last year we embarked on a money saving venture that I've talked about a few times in this blog. It was partly to prepare for parenthood and partly to be better stewards of our money. This included carefully examining our expenses and trying to determine where we could cut back and how we could pay down our small, but annoying debt.

Part of the time I felt like I was dragging Dave through this process by his hair. Dave accused me of being too much of a penny pincher; I accused him of letting his "it's only money" philosophy rule his spending habits. We were both wrong: When you don't spend any money for enjoyment, you get discouraged. When you spend it all, it becomes much more than just money because it's causing fights, discomfort, and headaches. Somewhere over the course of the last year, I think we finally met in the middle.

As Oprah would say, we had a big "aha" moment this summer. After our bank started dividing up expenses in a pie chart, we were slapped in the face once again with our perpetual downfall.... the high amount of money we spend on eating out. It's one thing to know and say how much you spend on something. It's quite another thing to see it in black and white in comparison to what else you are spending money on. So, we decided to do something drastic. Starting the day after our anniversary, we made a commitment not to eat out for an entire month.

We had to cook ahead. We had to plan. We grilled a alot. We pre-made lunches. When we moved too fast to fix a lunch or forgot it or plain ran out of food between grocery store day, we ate soup or ramen noodles. We encouraged one another. And we survived.

One disclaimer: we both ate out individually once as a part of a work thing/meeting. We also ate at friend's houses or at parties, which was nice to break up the flow.

When Dave saw he actually had a decent amount in his checking account after bills this month, he finally got it. We applied our extra cash to reducing our debt.

When we celebrated at a nicer restaurant than we would normally patronize, I finally got it. We even ordered dessert, and Jack really wanted some.

Ironically enough, in this month of deprivation, we were given two different gift certificates to restaurants. We spent one last night, meaning our tip, dinner and dessert only cost us $15. And we plan to spend the other one next month, when we celebrate again.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Jack and the Ladies

Everywhere we go, Jack is surrounded by little girls. Our friends that we routinely hang out with all have girls who think Jack is the next best thing to a doll. One girl named her baby at home "baby Jack" and she puts him to bed every night. She came over to help me give him a bath one day. Another girl gave Jack her own nickname, "Jackers." Our sitter has a one year old girl who cries when she sees me coming, because she knows I'm coming to pick Jack up. At home, my best friend has a little girl and Jack has a girl cousin.

This was the scene Saturday night... Judging from this picture, someday we may have some work to do regarding what he thinks of the roles of women in society....but something tells me any one of these girls will be able to set him straight.


Nothing says summertime like this picture. A sweet girl gobbling up sweet corn.

Dave and I attended the summer festival in our adopted hometown. In great summer fashion, we walked downtown with neighbors and met up with other friends. It was a beautiful summer evening with live music, cheese curds, and vendors selling crocheted hats, jewelry, and Wolf T-shirts. We did eat the sweet corn, but we ate more of the stuff we shouldn't have.... pork chops, french fries, fried cheese curds, funnel cakes. Just thinking about our food consumption on Saturday night makes me want to take a pressure washer to my stomach. We will do better.

This week we learned our little Jack really isn't so little at all. He's in the 95 percentile....meaning he's one big baby. He weighed in at 21 pounds and 27 inches at 18 weeks/4 1/2 months old. We're getting some biceps picking our little linebacker up and toting him around. Dave already has dreams of a hockey forward....who will perform better than Dave did at his favorite booth. A kid from the hockey team played goalie while you could try your shot at scoring. One buck bought you three shots and if you won, you got a Coke, er...up here they call it Pop. Not a bad deal. Although the Diet Coke we got wound up costing us 2 bucks, or 6 shots.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A girly shower

Today I discovered a batch of party pics that make me totally want to go out and get some scrapbook paper, make invitations, and throw a party. A really girly frou-frou party. The kind of party I never get to throw because all my parties usually must involve men, and men do not do green polka dots paired with pink plaid. They want beer, not matching punch served out of dainty cups. They just want to show up and don't care that the frilly invitation came in a matching envelope.

I know a girl who helped throw this Delta Zeta-inspired baby shower. Since I attended a small undergraduate college, we might have been in rival sororities but we all knew one another. I knew several girls in the pictures, but I couldn't quit staring at the decorating. I am totally in awe of this endeavor. I want to throw a party like this!

Monday, July 19, 2010

A very Minnesota celebration

Congratulations to our friends Jason and Lisa! They got married in early June in upstate New York, but we celebrated this past weekend out on Medicine Lake.

Getting a pavilion on the lake is no easy feat during the summer in this state. Dave put signs up the night before that were very Minnesota Nice. They said something to the effect of: 'We know we can't really reserve this space, but we are reserving it for Saturday evening. You can use it if you want, but we'll be here at 3:30 pm to use it.'

Dave showed up sometime around 11:30 am to stake out the space. Jack and I showed up at two in the hot, muggy, drippy afternoon. We were constantly telling people 'we have a party here' all day. I started putting up decorations and stuff on every table. They still didn't get the hint.

About 25 or 30 of Jason and Lisa's coworkers and friends trickled in throughout the evening. The weather started clouding up. It started to rain. Tornado sirens started going off. The lifeguards packed up and left. On their way out, they advised us to leave. Did that stop us? Nope.

In what is definitely a sign of the times, people started taking their smart phones out and comparing radars. Fueled quite possibly by the fact we had no backup plan, we decided to stay. Cooking and eating followed. Then, the guys challenged a neighboring pavilion to a volleyball game. We started packing up when people started comparing radars again and saying another line of storms were coming through. Best not to tempt fate twice. I would say it was just in the nick of time, but it wasn't. Several people got stuck in the storm on their way home.

So, we packed up and left. The only dismal failure of the party was the sweet corn debacle. We couldn't move the stationary grill under the pavilion, so during the first rainstorm our small fire was sheltered only by a big pot of sweet corn that got ready just as we were about to leave. I worried beforehand that I didn't have anything to pass out as party favors... I shouldn't have worried because the gallon-sized bags of sweet corn seemed to please folks just fine!

How very Minnesotan of us all.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Trip home

There's no better time to journey South than in the middle of a hot summer. Jack and I visited Arkansas over the July 4 holiday and spent quality time with family and friends.

But more importantly, we ate. We ate Watermelons from Hope. We ate purple hull peas and those zesty, homegrown tomatoes that you just can't buy in a store. We had tangy plum cobbler and fried okra. Cornbread. Fresh garden relish. Yes, summertime is the time for the very best eatin' at home.

Here's a brief scrapbook of the trip:

Grandmother doin' what she does best, watching the new great grandbabies.

Jack got to spend time with cousin, Kolby, who just might be a better babysitter if he lived closer:

Jack and the other great, Rhealee:
Here's Jack with his Pappy. If there ever was a grandfather to call Pappy, this is him. Check out the family resemblance on these noggins:

And finally, Jack met his new cousin Camryn. Neither one was that enthralled with the first encounter, but they are exactly three months and about 14 pounds apart. I love this picture:

And another staple of summer: front porch swinging. Even though the temperatures were in the 90s with soggy humidity, Jack couldn't get enough of it.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Travelling Jack

He's only 4 months old, but he's been on 12 flights and visited four states. Yep, Jack has been quite the baby traveller, but now we're putting the suitcase least until August.

If you fly with a "lap child," then I wholeheartedly recommend flying Southwest if you can. They are extremely family friendly. We flew Southwest initially because they let you fly with two bags free, and if you have a baby that's pretty important. Plus, your stroller doesn't count as a bag and you can check it at the gate. If the plane isn't fully booked, then you can carry your car seat on board and use it in an empty seat just like you paid for that seat. On those flights, I turned Jack around and strapped him in just like he was in a car and he snoozed away.

The toughest part of this entire process is going through security. You have to put your normal bags through, break down the stroller and car seat and run that through, and open up all your milk for special screening. Add that to holding a baby while taking off coats and shoes and running that through x-ray machines. It's quite the juggling act and it's hard to be fast.

There's bonus fun involved if they decide to scan you more or if you accidentally left hand sanitizer out of the Ziploc in your diaper bag.

While flying from Little Rock to Minneapolis recently, I discovered the secret to getting through security at a relatively breakneck speed. Keep in mind, I consider myself a well-versed traveller and can generally move through security very fast anyway. On my way to the checkpoint, I usually have in my head all of the steps I will go through to pass through quickly.

So here I was. Stroller frame broken down and put on belt. Jack in car seat on floor. Diaper bag (opened) in bin. Hand Sanitizer and lip gloss in baggie out of bag in bin. Milk out and open in another bin. Milk pointed out to security lady. Shoes off and in bin. Summer coat off and in bin. Then, unstrap a very smiley Jack and pick him up. Move to put car seat on belt.

Then, I spot it. Runny green poo puddled in the car seat and now on my arm. Ick.

Nevertheless, the car seat goes on the belt and I speed through the scanner with a stinky and cooing Jack in my arms. The man who was in charge of security saw me, saw the poop, got scared, and waved me right by.

My quickest time yet.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

"the Kindness of Strangers"

Dave and I have accidentally turned into theatre enthusiasts since moving to the Twin Cities. Well, we've both had periods when we've been more interested in theatre, but now we actively check out plays that are coming to town.

Last night, we happened to get tickets to see the Guthrie's "A Streetcar Named Desire." At first I was excited to see the show because Carlos, from Desperate Housewives, was in it and he was going to be shirtless for at least part of it. Carlos as I know him did such a fantastic job that as the show went on, I forgot he was a character from one of my favorite TV shows. The rest of the cast was equally accomplished and riveting. Most impressive to me was that they had the accents down perfectly. Stan and the rest sounded like he was from New Orleans. Stella and Blanche sounded like they were from the deep south. Not that many people might have noticed this, but we did and appreciated the extra effort made for accuracy's sake.

I can't say enough good things about the productions I've seen at the Guthrie. It's a very good theatre with accomplished actors and plenty creativity woven into well-known stories. This year, we hope to branch out just a bit and check out some of the other theatres in town, but we know where to turn for a nice evening out.

Jack did just fine with a babysitter, although we constantly checked our phones to see if we had a missed call.

Jack featured in newsletter

The baby ladies featured Jack in their newsletter:

Baby JackBaby Debut





Born March 8th, 2010 at 10:53pm at Fairview Southdale- weighing in at 6lbs 15oz ('although he's now pushing 20lbs' says Mommy) & 20.5"!

What's Jack up to...

'Jack likes taking baths, kicking, being outside, laughing at his daddy, and skyping with family in New York, Arkansas, and Louisiana. He is desperately trying to roll over and enjoys waking up at the crack of dawn every day. Although Jack does make chunky look adorable, he gets hearing people say, 'he doesn't miss many meals, does he?' He also does not like wearing tuxedos, but he's an excellent airplane traveller.'

Congratulations Shannon & Dave on a handsome baby boy!

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Varmints in the backyard

We were having cosmos at a neighbor's house Saturday night when a certain show came on television.

This is where you came from, right?


This week, Billy the Exterminator has come up in conversations in both personal and professional life. It's a show on A&E that follows Billy and the family working the family biz of killing pests and varmints out of their Benton, Louisiana-based business. I've seen references on Twitter, on Facebook, and out in the community. It's quite intriguing to think about people being interested in a zany pest control company in the area where I used to live.

I thought I'd give the show a chance. I almost fell out of my chair when I saw Billy's mom, Donnie, give her son instructions from the home office. The menagerie of crosses behind her desk had to be the same ones my roommate used to have up on her wall. I recognized a few places and references. I got skeptical a few times, but understand the producers have to sell the show.

Who knew the place where I lived was so dangerous?

Coincidentally, it's not the first time the area has been highlighted nationally for pests. Check out this YouTube story, a 1969 report the CBS news did on Texarkana's rat problem. They needed Billy the Exterminator for sure!

Live from Plymouth

I've been designated the Trivia Queen for this year's News on Tour. For the Plymouth stop, two groups of teenagers competed for prizes. In typical teen fashion, the kicker of the entire segment came when I asked one team how prepared they were for the event.

(fyi....Music in Plymouth is a pretty classy event. People start staking out their spots in the bandshell area days in advance. The night starts with lesser known concert bands, salsa bands, african drummers, etc, but ends with the Minnesota Orchestra and a in a pretty impressive fireworks show.)

Anyway, the team claimed to be prepared...howso? They bought a watermelon. That's it. No blankets to sit on, no chairs, no knife to cut the watermelon. Just the watermelon.

And they named him Wilson.